UMBEL Web Services Endpoints Released

After some delay, we are pleased to finally release the UMBEL Web services endpoints to the public. We have re-organized the Web services we introduced three months ago to add coherency and flexibility to the model.

The goal remains the same, but with a different flavor: these tools let ontologists and Web developers search, discover and use the UMBEL subject concept and named entity structures. The added flavor is that these Web services now fully embrace the HTTP 1.1 protocol and are provided via a series of well established data and serialization formats.

We now have RESTful Web services to add to our RESTful linked data. Pretty cool combination!

We are introducing two kinds of Web services: (1) atomic Web services and (2) compound Web services. An atomic Web service only performs one action: It takes some inputs and then outputs a resultset of the action. A compound Web service takes multiple atomic Web services, plugs them together in a pipeline model, and then takes some inputs and outputs a resultset arising from the compound action.

The communication between each of these Web service instances and the external World is the same: communication is governed by the HTTP 1.1 protocol. HTTP is generally RESTful and used to establish the communication, to determine mime type and serialization, to get inputs, to return status of the communication and possible errors, and to send back the resultset of the computation of the Web service.

That way, we can easily, within hours, programmatically pipeline these atomic Web services together to create new Web services. We can integrate external Web services endpoints into the same pipeline without modifying anything to the architecture. Status, errors and resultsets are propagated along the line, directly to the data consumer. This is the flexibility part of the story.

Now, how cool is that?

Overview of the UMBEL Web Services Endpoints

We are today releasing a couple of these atomic and compound Web service endpoints to the public, but others will follow in the coming weeks and months. Four families of Web services have been released that total seven Web service endpoints:

If you don’t know what UMBEL is, I would suggest you read a background information page that talks about the project.

The most important reading related to this blog post is the API philosophy documentation page that talks about the details of the design of this Web services architecture.

For Web developers that want to integrate these Web services endpoints within their application, an API documentation page explains how to communicate with these endpoints for each of the services.

Example of an Atomic Web Service

The Inference: Lister Web service is a good example of an atomic Web service. It takes a subject concept URI as the input and outputs a series of super-class-of, sub-class-of or equivalent-class-of classes for that concept. As an atomic service it does one thing and one thing only: Inferring relationships of a given subject concept URI.

Example of a Compound Web Service

The Reporter: Named Entity Web service is a good example of a compound Web service. This Web service displays full of information about a UMBEL named entity URI. However, not all the information returned by this Web service is directly computed by it. In fact, the information about broader and equivalent classes and subject concepts come from the Inference: Lister Web service. Results coming from this Web service are immediately integrated in the Reporter’s resultset. This is easily done considering that they share the same communication language (HTTP 1.1) and the same data and serialization formats (XML, RDF+XML and RDF+N3). This flexibility is priceless to quickly create resourceful compound Web services.

Conclusion

After some months to get the design right, we have finally released some of the UMBEL Web services to the public. These Web services can easily be integrated in current software architectures to leverage UMBEL’s vision of the World. The architecture underlying what we have released today will help to easily integrate UMBEL’s principles and concepts within new and existing projects. This will ultimately help people to quickly react to the changing World of needs and expectations of data users and consumers.

I hope you will enjoy using these new Web services, which Zitgist is freely hosting. The data you get from the Web service is open data and can be used freely with attribution.

Please do report any issues you may encounter. We also welcome any advice or suggestions that you would care to provide to enhance the overall system.

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